On a balmy Indian summer evening, the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Red Cross Chapter staged another hugely successful fundraiser, the 23rd Annual Fritz Coleman Comedy Show. Throngs of Red Cross supporters and comedy aficionados gathered at the Glendale Centre Theatre for an evening of lighthearted laughter, courtesy of Fritz Coleman, popular NBC4 weathercaster and talented stand-up comedian.
Coleman recruited four of his comic colleagues to regale the audience with stories and jokes that kept everyone laughing for two straight hours.
Ron Farina, CEO of the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Red Cross Chapter, introduced Coleman and evoked a round of hearty applause when he announced that “Fritz said he’s going for 25,” which means we’ll have at least another two years to enjoy the special brand of humor Coleman and his fellow comedians bring to the event.
First up was Carlos Alazraqui, whose impressive credentials include a role on Comedy Central’s “Reno 911” and a voiceover role in the forthcoming “Book of Life” animated film. Carlos also has the distinction of being the voice of the Taco Bell Chihuahua. His material focused on the “joys” of being a 50-something with young children—and a 20-years-younger wife.
Jack Coen followed Carlos, and he had some funny stories to tell about his two-year-old’s misadventures, along with amusing observations on aging and on current events like the recent intruder in the White House. Jack is a long-time writer and producer of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and it was evident from his material that his tenure with Leno was well-earned.
Next up came Kira Soltanovich, who has written for a number of TV stars, including the late Joan Rivers. A Russian emigrée, Kira did a spot-on parody of her mother, accent and all, exaggerating how hard life was in the Soviet Union compared to America. Childbirth and marriage were just some of the subjects that got the Kira treatment, and judging by the laughter resonating through the theater, her humor struck many chords with the audience.
The closing act was Don McMillan, a self-proclaimed nerd (not a geek, as he carefully explained!) who used a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate several social concepts, as well as to prove that it would have been faster for him to fly from his home base in Santa Monica to Las Vegas, then to Burbank, and then drive from Bob Hope Airport to the theatre, instead of making the commute via the Los Angeles freeways. Don actually has a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, but it’s engineering’s loss that he turned his talents to comedy.
Distinguished audience members, who were laughing and clapping as loud as anyone, included recently elected City Councilwoman Paula Devine, as well as former Glendale-CV Board Chairman Mike Haney. And back for a second visit was English Bulldog “Lucius,” a military service dog, a very well-behaved canine who seemed to enjoy the humor almost as much as his human counterparts did.
As always, the American Red Cross gives its wholehearted thanks to Fritz Coleman for generously donating his time and talent to this event, along with the Glendale Centre Theatre for providing the venue free of charge.
We are also deeply grateful to Phoenicia Restaurant owner Ara Kalfayan, who treated VIP ticketholders to a pre-show reception and sumptuous meal of Lebanese cuisine.
We also thank the volunteers and Board members who worked to make this event a success, and to our community members who promoted the event, subsidized the souvenir program, bought tickets, and brought their friends and family for a night of laughter and fun.
Photos by Roxanne Schorbach
Photo: Red Cross volunteer Ralph Schorbach is pictured with comedians who performed at the 23rd Annual Fritz Coleman Comedy Show (l to r) Jack Coen, Don McMillan, Kira Soltanovich, Fritz Coleman and Carlos Alazraqui.